JIS News

Cabinet has approved the ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 152 Occupational Safety and Health (for dock workers), 1979.
Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman, who made the disclosure at this morning’s post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, said the Convention had been adhered to in some measure in Jamaica with the existing laws, “and it is appropriate and legitimate for us to ratify this Convention even with the existing laws and regulations that we have.”
He noted however, that “to strengthen our capacity to be fully compliant and to ensure that we provide all that is required of us, there will also be amendments to the relevant legislation”.
Among other things, the Convention requires the government to create a framework to provide information, training and the necessary supervision to ensure the protection of workers against risks of accident or injury to health, arising out of or during the course of their employment.
Answering questions as to whether the government was satisfied with occupational safety and health regulations as it related to the work environment in general, Senator Whiteman pointed out that while the current laws were not deficient, “we need to remember that legislation provides the framework. Implementation is what gives substance to the legislation and people and premises have to be monitored”.
“The critical point is that there needs to be a lot more careful monitoring by entities of their own entities and the management of the conditions in which their operators work,” he added.
He stated further, “it would be fair to say that in recent years, particularly beginning with some of the bauxite companies, there has been a great deal of emphasis on safety at the workplace and the legislation has been amended over time to deal with that. Where we need to go is to a more rigorous regime of monitoring and management. Part of that is the government’s responsibility but another part is also the responsibility of those who manage enterprises, particularly the construction and utility enterprises and so on”.
Meanwhile, Cabinet also approved drafting instructions for amendments to the Foreign Nationals and Commonwealth Citizens (Employment exemptions) Regulations. Senator Whiteman explained that an earlier Cabinet decision had abolished the visa requirement for persons who enter Jamaica to conduct business activities on a short term basis, and instead introduced special cards designating persons, who visit the island frequently for business related purposes as “preferred travellers”.
“What happens then is that they will have to get an exemption certificate to allow them to conduct business, be it negotiations in relation to an investment or negotiations in relation to a joint venture project, but they are in fact working,” he expounded.
What the proposed amendment will do is alter these arrangements to make them more flexible to allow foreign nationals and Commonwealth citizens to operate in Jamaica for 30 days without a work permit, provided that these visits do not exceed a total of six months in each calendar year.
“So that a person coming to do business, can in fact come and conduct that business related to the business he intends to do for a period of up to a month and can return at intervals, but not exceeding a total of six months for the calendar year and the certificate of exemption will no longer be necessary,” Senator Whiteman said.

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